The Whole Brain Child

Authors: Daniel J Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson

Reasons to read:

  • To gain understanding of neural development from a young age through until full brain development.
  • Despite focusing a lot on primary age children, a lot of the strategies are applicable to adolescents.
  • To compare the behaviour of your young people to similar examples in the book.

Key notes:

  • An integrated brain is capable of much more than its individual components.
  • Following a traumatic event, repeatedly discussing the event and its outcomes and relating these to their emotions can help children rationalise their experiences and move on from them, instead of dwelling on the distress they experienced.
  • A person’s brain isn’t considered to be fully-developed until their mid-twenties.
  • Mental health can be described as floating along a ‘river of wellbeing’. All is well unless you float too close to the bank of chaos on one side, or the bank of rigidity on the other side.
  • The ‘upper brain’ which helps you to make rational and thought through decisions is not fully developed until the mid-twenties. This limits young peoples’ ability to control their impulsivity. Despite this, it is essential for adults to set clear expectations on the behaviour of young people to promote up-down integration.
  • The amygdala (part of the lower brain) acts like a stair gate to the upper brain. It can close off the pathway and cause young people to act in a purely emotional and irrational way.
  • When you ask simple questions that encourage the consideration of others’ feelings, you are building a young person’s ability to feel empathy.
  • ‘Neurons that fire together, wire together’.
  • Young people with lots of negative implicit memories can become debilitated by them. (Find it hard to trust and always expect negative outcomes).

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